Name Kaye Wilkinson Barley
Where are you from Now living in Boone, NC, but originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc Married to Don Barley for almost 29 years. We moved to the small mountain town of Boone nineteen years ago from Atlanta, GA. We are owned by one small Corgi named Harley.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Latest news is that I’m pretty excited about going to see Fleetwood Mac in concert next week!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I guess I’ve written all my life, but only for myself. As soon as blogging became a thing, I took to that like a duck to water. My favorite writing is, and always will be, creative non-fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m still not comfortable with that, truth be told. Writing is one of the things I do.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
After having two pieces published in regional anthologies, the editor of those anthologies made a comment to me that helped me decide to write a novel. She said, “I hope you will continue to write. I think you were born to write.” I will always thank Celia Miles for her support and for those words. There were a couple other writer friends who also encouraged me along the way – Judith Greber (aka Gillian Roberts), and Earl Staggs who spent 2 years helping me write “Whimsey” by motivating, teaching and editing. Without Earl, “Whimsey” would never have been written. He had gently pushed me in this direction for a few years before it finally “took.”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think we all do. It’s nothing I can put my finger on, but I do think anyone reading enough of a writer’s work will be able to recognize that writer’s style. What mine is, I honestly can’t say.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Fiona, you are the first person to ask me that. And I don’t know. Like so much of what I write, it just comes. The title is also, as you know, the name of the island where most of the story takes place – I’m not sure where it came from, but I love it and it seems to fit. At least, to me.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I have always loved books that embrace women’s friendships. If there’s a message, it’s that, I think. Good, close women friends are to be cherished and nurtured. We can do a lot for one another and we should. Loyalty is something to be taken seriously and once a trust has been broken, it may be forgiven, but will never be forgotten.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Very little, really.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The idea behind the friendship the women share is based on friendships I enjoy with women I’ve known for a number of years – some of them since grade school. There’s deep trust, love and respect there.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Books have influenced my life since I was a little girl. If there was one single book that had an impact on me, I would have to say it was Anne Fairbairn’s “Five Smooth Stones,” which I read when it was first published in the mid-60s. Authors who influence me today are many, but probably the one writer I admire more than any other is Pat Conroy. Mentors? I would have to say Celia Miles and Earl Staggs.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading an advance copy of Patti Callahan Henry’s “The Idea of Love.” Southern fiction at its finest!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There are. Because I’m lucky enough to receive a few eGalleys through NetGalley.com, I have an opportunity to “discover” new authors. Sometimes they’re only new to me, but two authors who I think are new that I have recently read and been completely blown away by are Diane Thomas who spent 30 years writing “In Wilderness,” and Marian Palais who wrote “The Given World.” Both are quite powerful and books I’ll be recommending and giving to friends and family.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am the slowest fiction writer on God’s green earth. I have been working on a second Whimsey novel, but it doesn’t seem to be working so I’ve put it away for a while and am now working on a novel that’s just taken a wild turn that I didn’t expect and has become a bit southern gothic. I’m enjoying it immensely. But in the meantime, I’m blogging at my Meanderings and Muses where I vent and rant about things that make my head explode, but also write about the things I love. And, I blog the first Sunday of each month at the Jungle Red Writer’s blog, which I feel quite honored and blessed to be a small part of. The regulars there are Julia Spencer Fleming, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Lucy Burdette, Hallie Ephron, Rhys Bowen, Deborah Crombie and Susan Elia MacNeal. Quite an impressive line-up of women writers, huh? And I’ve written a couple of short stories, one of which is now out seeking a place of publication.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Can I name two? There were book reviewers who took the time to read and review Whimsey, some of whom gave it very high marks. That, in addition to making me pretty over-the-moon happy, also gave the book a boost that I don’t think would have happened without their help. And some independent bookstores took a chance and agreed to place it on their shelves – Laurel Books in Oakland, CA, Malaprop’s in Asheville, NC, Quarter Moon Books on Topsail Island, NC, Mystery Loves Company in Oxford, MD, and Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC have been awesome in their support. Many more carry it in their on-lines stock. The support from reviewers and indie bookstores were the most surprising to me, and I will be forever grateful.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. But’s it an important part of my life. As is my photography and other creative things I love. Now that I’m retired I want to be able to enjoy the time I now have by being able to spread my wings trying, learning and doing a multitude of different things.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a thing. Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” That’s what I did..
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it started back when my parents gave me my very first diary. A long, long time ago that was! Who knew it was where my love of creative non-fiction would begin?
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The challenge in writing, for me, is to tackle hard topics head on. I’m pretty comfortable with doing this in my non-fiction, but now I feel the need to try to tackle some social issues in the novel I’m working on. Doing it in fiction in a way that won’t send everyone off screaming is definitely a challenge for me. There are some authors who do it beautifully – Margaret Maron, for one. There are others who try and don’t seem to be able to carry it off. If I find I’m unable to carry it off, I’ll cut it from the story.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Pat Conroy and his ability to make every sentence feel like poetry.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I love the Whimsey cover so much. I knew what I wanted and went to several stock photo sites searching for the elements. I found the house at one site, the ghost at another, etc. The little dog is a picture that either my husband or I took of our corgi. Then I hired a friend and neighbor, Jill Smith, who is an exceptional artist who does, among other artistic endeavors, design work. She put the elements together exactly the way I had envisioned, and came up with the perfect font for the title. I think everything about the cover is just perfect.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Just sitting down and actually doing it. Doing it, sticking with it, and finishing it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a million different things! Earl Staggs, besides editing Whimsey, gave me pretty much a one-on-one writing class over a two year period. Mostly I learned how hard it really is to actually do it – to finish it. I think many people feel the urge or the need to write a book, but I’m curious as to how many actually complete the task. It’s hard. Anyone who assumes it is not hard has never done it.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just. Do. It. Do it. If you think it’s something you want to do, do not let anyone tell you it’s something you can’t do. Do it. But before striking out to publish, make sure you have a good editor. Not someone to just proof-read, but actually edit. Good editing by a professional editor will only make it better, I promise. And you’ll have something you’ll be proud of for the rest of your life. After you’ve written the book you want to write, and after you’ve had it edited, be very careful who you ask to read it. A good critique partner or group is priceless, but advice from someone who may not truly have your very best interests at heart can be toxic. Be careful. Choose wisely.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to thank every single one of them who gave Whimsey, and me, a chance. And those who took the time to send me a note, or leave a review – Thank You. A writer knows that the work she’s doing isn’t going to be every reader’s cup of tea. It’s not meant to be. But finding an audience who enjoys the work means you did something right. If it finds an audience that shares their enjoyment with others, that is such a bonus. I am enormously proud and happy of Whimsey. Nothing can ever take that away.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t. My mom swears I was reading at a very early age, but what it might have been, I have no idea. Little Golden Books, maybe?
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I do both with great gusto. My husband makes me laugh harder than anyone else I’ve ever known, and he does it pretty regularly. The man is nuts, seriously nuts. I cry when moved by beauty. I cried buckets (along with big sobs) at an Eric Clapton concert when he sang “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” acapella. I cry at sad movies and I cry reading. I also cry when I’m angry, especially when it involves someone I care about who has been hurt. Laughter is better, of course, but they both serve a purpose so I don’t try to suppress either.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would like to meet Willie Nelson. I’ve been to so many of his concerts, have so much of his music, and several books written by him and about him. I admire him for so many reasons I think it would be the neatest thing in the world to just be able to sit down and listen to him tell a few stories and sing a few songs. I would be in heaven.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“She done the best she could.” I’d like to think that’s true, that I lived my life in a way that made me happy and maybe meant something to a few others along the way.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I’m an avid amateur photographer. That’s one of the things my husband and I enjoy doing together – just hopping in the truck and going off to take pictures of . . . whatever. I do a little mixed media collage work, and I like doing fiber arts like needlepoint and counted cross stitch and a little knitting.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m not a TV person, and I still prefer old movies over most of what’s being shown in the movie theaters today.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music.
Favorite foods – Pizza. Chocolate. Ice cream. Favorite colors – reds and pinks. Favorite music – Old Motown, Classic Rock, Classic Country.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
If so what is it?
Meanderings and Muses is where I blog – www.meanderingsandmuses.com
I blog the first Sunday of each month at Jungle Red Writers – www.jungleredwriters.com
I have a webpage that focuses on my writing – Whimsey, My Name is Harley and This is My Story (narrated by our corgi, photos by me and Don), and the two anthologies in which I was a contributor. There’s also a few videos of me reading my work, along with some other authors’ work. And eventually there will be some prints of photographs Don and I have taken up for sale – www.kayewilkinsonbarley.com
Fiona – Thank you! This has been fun.